The Clean and Green Club, February 2016

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Shel Horowitz’s Clean and Green Marketing Tip, February, 2016
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This Month’s Tip: Three Words to Inspire My Year—Do You Have Some?
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Dean Cycon, CEO of Dean’s Beans, making music in Rwanda
Just as all the New Years resolution stuff is quieting down, six weeks into 2016, here I come with an article about it. What’s up with that?

  1. I already had Part Two of my two-part “Make Yourself Clear” series written and scheduled for January, and didn’t want to interrupt the flow.
  2. I thought it might be more effective if it didn’t get buried in a pile of inspirational New Year’s messages—just as I’ve advised clients to think about standing out in the pack by sending an annual greeting, not at Christmas but at some other time, like Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, or (best of all) the client’s birthday.
  3. This may be the most personal and vulnerable article I’ve ever written, particularly when I talk about the second word. I wanted to get your full attention.

Every year, bestselling author and social media visionary Chris Brogan challenges his huge reader base to come up with three words to provide focus for the coming year. This year, I decided to take the challenge. My three words are:

  1. Transform
  2. Win
  3. Love

Here’s what they mean to me, and why I picked them:


Transform is my top word because it’s so clearly the focus of my new work. A few days ago I even bought the domain, Transformpreneur.comsm, and I’ve already started putting content up (though it’s far from finished).

First, there’s the social transformation I want to bring about by transforming the business world. I want to end the biggest crises of our time, and I see the business community as the best lever. Appealing to enlightened self-interest—the profit motive—I want to make the bottom-line business case that just as going green saved costs and increased revenue, so too can turning hunger and poverty into sufficiency, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance

When I first started talking a great deal about going green and being ethical as profit boosters, around 2002, people looked at me funny. Now, it’s common business wisdom. I think the same will be true eventually for creating profitable products, services, and a company DNA that address these issues at their roots—especially since we already know how to do a lot of this.

Second, the transformation in my own business. I see consulting, speaking, and writing
on how business can bring about that transformation—including working with individual businesses or organizations to develop and market the right social change products and services for its own culture and markets—as a major part of my business in the coming year, and for the rest of my working life. 

While I’ve been thinking about these things for many years, have written books and given talks about it, I still have to find the markets that are willing to pay for what I know I can do for them. I go into the year with two quite different possible markets: small
entrepreneurial and startup companies, and large, established corporations/associations. I’ve developed two different websites for these audiences, because the agenda, methodology, timetable, and price structure will be very different.

All of this is a natural outgrowth of the green business profitability work I’ve done the past several years—but while it builds on the past work, it is different. I’m confident that I can make it work, but am still a bit fuzzy on the how. Which brings us to the second word:


My original choice was “succeed,” but then I went to Chris’s post. He chose “win” as one of his words, and I think it’s like success, but stronger. It can also work as both a noun and a verb, as can my third word.

Also, I feel that on many levels other than the material, my life IS a success. I made a conscious decision about 30 years ago to have a happy life, and I’ve made good on that: I love the marriage I’m in, the house and community where I live, the places I visit, the local organic fresh food I eat, the books I read, the performances I watch, and so on. 

That decision rippled through all areas of my life. As early as 1985, it was the difference between feeling angry-frustrated-cheated when I had to spend an entire day of precious vacation mailing packages back to myself, as the old me would have felt—and thinking, even before I was married, about the wonderful story I’d have to tell my grandchildren.

But there are two areas where I need to replace that general feeling of success with a clear, strong victory: the economic underpinning of my business (which has now had two low-producing years in a row while I retooled for the transformation)
and the deeper impact of my work on the world.

The problem with having many interests and multiple skill areas is that it’s really hard to focus. When everything is fascinating, how do you choose? Yet, to succeed—to win—you have to close some doors so you can pass through the doors that remain open.

This is the lens: I’m using to help me choose what to focus on:

Over the past few years, I’ve worked hard to overcome a case of what my friend Noah St. John calls “success anorexia.” I’ve looked at my money/success blocks, and overcome a number of them. But, watching my own failures doing things that have worked really well for others, I realize there’s still some hidden piece, deep in my subconscious, that courts failure. I need to find that piece, hold it up to the light, make an alliance with the parts of it that act out of love (while redirecting them), excise the parts that are rooted in self-hatred, and have a clear win. This will be difficult, because I don’t even know what it is that’s holding me back. But it’s essential.

Once that hurdle is overcome, I want to look at how to broaden my impact. I have a great message and great examples of how we can solve these big problems. 

But for that to really change the world, I need to find hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of people who are open to that transformational message. None of my books have ever sold more than a few thousand copies. My blog and social media audiences total less than 30,000. The number of people who hear me speak in a year is much too small. 

Thus, the second big win I need is to get myself in front of a far larger number of people. (If you can help with the book launch, or if you’d like to earn commissions by bringing me speaking or consulting, please get in touch! As an extra benefit, this will help with selling more books, doing more paid speaking to larger audiences, and getting more consulting gigs—in other words, contributing to the win I’m looking for in my own blocks. At age 59, I have a limited time to make a bigger impact on the world. I want to leave a legacy of creating deep transformational change, because I love this planet. And that’s a nice transition to the third word.


Love of others and of self, love of the ecosystem and the planet. In my youth, I was a very angry, loud activist who felt utterly betrayed by governments and corporations and wasn’t good at finding common ground or seeking alliances with those who thought or felt differently from me. Over the years, I’ve learned how mistaken I was—starting all the way back in the 1970s. 

Some might say I’ve softened but I don’t see that way. I’ve learned to approach with love, respect, and an understanding that almost all of us want a better world; we just have different interpretations of what that means and how to bring it about.

Love is often about deep listening. It’s also about seeking a higher good for a greater number of people, without sacrificing the needs and desires of others. It’s about building the communication skills to allow environmentalists and Tea
Partiers to discover their common ground (something I talk about very specifically in my 10th book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World).

Going deeper, this is what allows even the most hate-filled opponents to go past the hurt and build a better world for everyone. Nelson Mandela was a master of this. So are the people who organize the various Arab-Israeli joint projects such as the magnificent Wahat al-Salam/Neve Shalom community in Israel, where Jews and Arabs study and work together—the name, in both languages, translates as “Oasis of Peace”—or Combatants for Peace, which pairs Arab and Israeli former combatants to travel around and speak about cooperation.

It’s easy to love those who agree with you. It’s much harder to love those you might blame for the death of a loved one or the loss of your land. I have tremendous admiration for those involved in these sorts of cooperative efforts and I want to be more like them.

(This is revised from a blog post written January 3, 2016.)

Preorder your copy of Shel’s newest book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World

Learn how the business world can profit while solving hunger, poverty, war, and catastrophic climate change (hint: they’re all based in resource conflicts). Endorsed by Chicken Soup’s Jack Canfield, business blogger and bestselling author Seth Godin, and many others. Release date is April 19, just in time for Earth Day, and you can now preorder from several major booksellers (or get autographed and inscribed copies from me). Learn all about this powerful book at
Hear and Meet Shel
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About Shel & This Newsletter

As a green and social change business profitability/marketing consultant and copywriteraward-winning author of ten booksinternational speaker and trainer, blogger, syndicated columnist – Shel Horowitz shows how green, ethical, and socially conscious businesses can actually be *more* profitable than your less-green, less-socially-aware competitors. His award-winning 8th book Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet was a category bestseller for at least 34 months (and is now available exclusively through Shel). Shel also helps authors/ publishers, small businesses, and organizations to market effectively, and turns unpublished writers into well-published authors.

Shel Horowitz’s consulting firm, Green And Profitable, is the first business ever to earn Green America’s rigorous Gold Certification as a leading green company. He was inducted into the National Environmental Hall of Fame in 2011.

He began publishing his monthly newsletter all the way back in 1997, making it one of the oldest marketing e-zines (it’s changed names a few times along the way).

“As always, some of the links in this newsletter earn commissions—because I believe in the products and services enough to promote them (I get asked to endorse lots of other programs I don’t share with you, because I don’t find them worthy).”
Privacy Policy: We Respect Your Privacy

We collect your information solely to let our mailing service send you the information you request. We do not share it with any outside party not involved in mailing our information to you. Of course, you may unsubscribe at any time—but we hope you’ll stick around to keep up with cool developments at the intersections of sustainability, social transformation, and keeping the planet in balance. Each issue of Shel Horowitz’s Clean and Green Newsletter has a how-to or thought-leadership article and a review of a recommended book. We’ve been doing an e-newsletter all the way back to 1997, and some of our readers have been with us the whole time.

LIVE INFORMAL PRESENTATION TO TAMARA STENN’S CLASS ON SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA, Friday, March 8, noon. Contact me for details.

GUEST FOR RONALD M. ALLEN’S MANAGING CHANGE SHOW, Monday, April 4, 10 a.m. ET, 7 a.m. PT–going-green-raises-revenues-and-lowers-costs

GUEST FOR ADAM LERNER’S MARKETING PODCAST, Wednesday, April 13, 1 pm ET/10 a.m. PT

NEW YORK BOOK LAUNCH EVENT for Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World: Green America’s Green Festival—New York, Saturday, April 16, Javits Center. Mainstage talk at 1:30 followed by book signing at 3. This is a great event; I’ve attended several times and this will be my third time speaking. Not just terrific speakers but also great organic food samples and cool products like the wallet and purse vendor who makes stuff out of old tires (I use one of those wallets that I bought there a couple of years ago).

GUEST ON THE BILL NEWMAN SHOW, WHMP 1400 AM & 96.9 FM, Northampton, MA and online, Monday, April 18, between 9-10 a.m. ET

OFFICIAL PUBLICATION DATE FOR Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World is Tuesday, April 19—and Earth Day is Friday, April 22.

SECOND OF J.V. CRUM’S TWO INTERVIEWS ON CONSCIOUSMILLIONAIRE.COM, April 19 (almost no overlap between this and the earlier show listed at “recent interviews”)

WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS BOOK LAUNCH EVENT for Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World, Wednesday, April 20, 7 p.m., Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley. Come early if you want a seat; I’m expecting to fill the room.

SLOW LIVING SUMMIT, Brattleboro, VT, April 28-30 (theme: Food and Agriculture Entrepreneurship), My talk will be on the 30th: “Impossible is a Dare: How Your Food Business Can Make a Difference on Hunger, Poverty, War, and Catastrophic Climate Change

WEBINAR FOR INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS OF NEW ENGLAND, “Green Audiences, Green Titles, Green Printing” Thursday, May 26, 6 pm ET/3 pm PT

Recent Interviews:
The first of two excellent shows on Conscious Millionaire (the other will air first on my official launch date, April 19)

Behind the Business with Author & Speaker Shel Horowitz

Friends Who Want to Help

OSHANA HIMOT (the business coach who has catapulted me exactly where I want to be in creating a career around healing the world) is again offering no-charge consultations (and her phone number has changed. She writes:

“I am a business and life coach and work with people in many fields, assisting them to expand their work. it is unique for each person – the best programs to create, the groups to work with, how to find customers and clients…

I work with people who would like to help create a better society and can benefit from coaching. For a complimentary consultation, call 602-463-6797 or email Oshana Himot, MBA, CHT”

Another Recommended Book: Strategies for the Green Economy
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Strategies for the Green Economy: Opportunities and Challenges in the New World of Business, by Joel Makower (McGraw-Hill, 2009)

Is it really worth reading a book this old on a fast-changing subject like green business success strategy? In this case, the answer is yes. Most of what has changed only strengthens Makower’s arguments. I identified two major areas where the world is quite different now—but far more where his points are still spot-on. Note: I asked Joel if he agreed with my analysis, and his response follows my review.

What Has Changed

Perhaps the biggest change is that he found some of the greenest companies reluctant to talk about their green accomplishments, with many of them worrying so much about being accused of greenwashing (or about being tarred with the brush of bad quality that plagued some early green products) that they were unwilling to claim credit (and gain the resultant marketing advantages). These days, almost every major company is trumpeting its green achievements in its marketing, and often on its packaging too.

The second-biggest shift is in the economics of energy. Even with plummeting fossil fuel prices, clean renewable energy is increasingly cost-competitive with fossil fuels. Some new wind and solar projects are coming in at 4 cents a kilowatt—unheard of when Makower was researching his book. At that time, enterprise-scale or urban-scale green energy was still largely considered unproven in the corporate world

What’s Still (or Even More) Valid (partial list that could be much longer)

  • A shift away from pollution control to avoiding pollution in the first place (pp. 9-12)
  • The increasing adoption of biomimicry—one of the most exciting design philosophies to come down the road in decades (I’ll be reviewing an entire book on biomimicry a few months from now)
  • Certification labels and definitions of green standards are still a jumbled confused mess, people think they know more about the environment than they do, and “green hopes far outweigh green habits” (p. 37)—all of which hold back progress
  • The idea that small behavioral (and consciousness) changes can reap big dividends (p. 63)
  • The perception that municipal solid waste (household garbage) is our biggest waste problem, even though industrial trash accounts for a far larger portion (p. 112)
  • Similarly, many of the largest energy wasters (counting a product’s entire lifecycle) are surprising or hidden: for example, chilling sodas, heating water for laundry (pp. 117-119); changing the shape of its noodle enabled Hamburger Helper to save 900,000 pounds of paperboard per year (p. 141)
  • We have to market differently to different market sectors (something I stress in my own writing and speaking); for instance, many green products are sold successfully to people who don’t particularly care about the environment but care a lot about health or product longevity/quality
  • Just the act of a major retailer requesting a self-audit from its suppliers can create change (p. 147)
  • Companies can often work together far more effectively than separately to green their operations—pooling everything from leather tanning for athletic shoes (p. 197) to information
  • Enormous progress continues to be made on some fronts, such as the astounding 75 percent drop in energy use per dollar of gross domestic product between 1950 and 2008—but with the growth of the economy during that period, carbon and pollution dropped almost imperceptibly (p 208)

Makower also has some timeless advice about the greater meaning of business: maintain your passion and activism, refuse to betray your values for economic gain. In other words, don’t lose your soul in the name of sales. He also has lots of cool tools to either demonstrate our progress or help make a case for better business practices, such as the CRED formula (pp. 180-188) and 10 reasons why green business is here to stay (pp. 236-239).

Even employees pretty far down the food chain can have enormous impact; it was apparel buyer Carol Rose who got then-Walmart CEO Lee Scott interested in selling enviro-friendly products when she bought and rapidly sold 190,000 organic cotton yoga outfits (p. 139). While activists will still find fault with its labor practices, supply policies, and store siting, the company has gone on to be a leader in many green business fronts, selling more organic food than Whole Foods and getting many of its suppliers to redo their product packaging along sustainable lines.

Joel Makower Responds:
“I will push back a little on your contention that companies are now talking vociferously (my word, not yours) about their green achievements. I can assure you that this is still very much an arena where the overwhelming majority of companies are walking way more than they’re talking. It’s a sore spot among nearly all the Chief Sustainability Officers I know at big companies. They can’t get their Comms departments to let them talk about what they’re doing. So, it really hasn’t changed all that much.”

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